Palm Springs, CA

Help on the way, methodically, for troubled city intersections

The Palm Springs Post

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A vehicle sits damaged after hitting an apartment building near the intersection of East Via Escuela and North Indian Canyon Drive.Reader submission

Cars into homes. Trucks into fire hydrants. Cars and trucks into … other cars and trucks. Neighbors near one intersection in north Palm Springs have had their fill of screeching tires and the sound of metal on metal outside their living room windows.

“Since we moved here in February, we have witnessed several accidents,” said one resident of the Indian Canyon Garden Apartments at North Indian Canyon Drive and East Via Escuela. “The most recent was Thursday when a truck hit the fire hydrant, ironically on the same day that the stucco was repaired to our building that was hit by a car driving into it at full speed due to a crash.”

“Luckily that driver did not die,” she said, adding that her neighbors have long wondered when that moment is coming at the intersection where north-south traffic often travels well above the 45 mph posted speed limit. Rumors of a planned four-way stop at the intersection have persisted for years.

Any delay in city engineers coming to the rescue should be expected. Each year, staff members hear from hundreds of people with similar concerns in neighborhoods spread out in the city’s 95 square miles. Each report needs to be logged, along with traffic data and police reports, as part of detailed work needed to help determine where help is most urgently needed.

“We have to evaluate each one, ensure the required warrants for each are met with engineering studies, then we can move towards securing funding,” said Francisco Jaime, an associate civil engineer with the city. “Each study takes staff time and financial resources that we have to properly manage.”

The particular intersection in question is not slated for a new signal — yet. Instead, engineers hope to first calm traffic there with enhanced traffic slowing measures one block to the north, at North Indian Canyon Drive and East Racquet Club Road. Funding for that work is part of a $2.8 million project currently under way that will see a total of 17 intersections receive the very latest in traffic safety equipment.

Exactly how to improve safety at North Indian Canyon Drive and East Via Escuela is part of an upcoming study, Jaime said. That study will be used as the evidence needed to secure funding for safety improvements at the intersection, including the possibility of new traffic lights.

Engineers aren’t planning on stopping there. Throughout Palm Springs, funding has been secured, and work is proceeding, at more than 40 intersections to install new or upgraded signals, turn lanes, message boards, curb work, and more. In total, $8.7 million will be spent on the work, with the goal of creating safer streets to navigate for both vehicles and pedestrians. The Indian Canyon Drive/East Via Escuela study is funded in part by $300,000 in grant monies secured for studying where and what to work on next.

Among the current projects:

“Each of the above intersections was in one way or another identified for safety issues and staff worked on getting them funded,” Jaime said. “The process takes a very long time with countless staff hours spent to obtain the above results.” 

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